This month we are featuring a fashion series focused on five fast fashion facts and five questions with a sustainable, slow fashion brand.
Why we should care about fast fashion and sustainable fashion
Merriam Webster defines fast fashion as: “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”
In our consumer driven society, that doesn’t sound all bad since we love having things quickly and cheaply at our fingertips. But the impacts of fast fashion on people and the environment are huge. This month we will be sharing some facts about fast fashion to emphasize why we need to be paying attention to the industry.
We understand that sustainable fashion brands are not accessible to everyone, so please know there is no condemnation from us if you shop in fast fashion. We want to share information, highlight some of our favourite brands we love to follow, and provide alternatives with hopes to minimize the negative impacts of fast fashion.
Five Fashion Facts
So why should we be paying attention? Here are some facts you may not know.
- Fast fashion is about making clothes quick, cheap, and disposable. This not only refers to the price, but also the quality of make and material. (Hassan Minhaj, The Patriot Act)
- The fashion industry is projected to have their CO2 emissions reach 2.8 billion tons per year by 2030, which equals the emissions produced by 230 million passenger vehicles driven for a year.
- A 2017 report stated that the industry used enough water to fill 32-million Olympic sized swimming pools in one year, with a projected growth in water usage of 50% by 2030.
- One garbage truck of textiles ends up in the landfill every second–this is three quarters of all used materials in the process. (Pulse of the Fashion Industry, 2018 Report)
- Paying attention to the fabric in our clothes is also important. By simply using organic cotton instead of conventional cotton, energy costs could be reduced by more than half, which would cut the contribution of this material to global warming by 46%. There are also benefits of reducing acidification of land and water, reducing soil erosion and blue water consumption. (Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 Report)
Five Questions and Answers with a Sustainable Fashion Brand
We reached out to some of our favourite sustainable, slow fashion labels to find out more about what they do and why they do it. This sustainable fashion series is a passion project for us, motivated by our love of supporting small businesses, which means we were not compensated by these brands to feature them. We hope you love these brands as much as we do!
Introducing Airbrushed Intimates
We’ve been following Airbrushed Intimates for a while now–even before they had their first product launch on July 1st. We fell in love with them before seeing their products because of what they stand for. First we learned that they were taking plastic from our oceans and were turning it into lingerie. They use an amazing material called ECONYL® which is made from nylon waste from landfills and oceans.
Then we learned that they refuse to airbrush their models because they believe skin is beautiful as is and that’s a message that we feel can be shouted from rooftops. So then why the name “Airbrushed,” right? They are redeeming the word in a way, with the mission to airbrush out the negative side of the fashion industry.
When Airbrushed Intimates launched their first product, we instantly wanted one in every colour! They are bright and vibrant and are inspired by nature, like the turquoise inspiring blue footed booby, a bird from the Galapagos (just check out this post! He’s the cutest!).
We hope you enjoy getting to know this brand as much as we did through the answers to our sustainable fashion questions.
Why did you choose to start a sustainable brand?
The environment became my world during University, where I specialised in sustainability within society. After which, my path actually took a turn and I became a full-time model, with which I was immersed into the fashion industry – an industry that I have always adored; as it promotes diversity, enables self-expression, enhances confidence, reflects religion and keeps history alive.
To my dismay, this world also exposed me to the harsh reality that is fast fashion – the sheer number of garments that are purchased and discarded for the industry is devastating. Each person buys an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year in the UK alone, often fuelled by fast fashion brands releasing new styles weekly as a strategy designed to make people feel as though the clothes they just bought are already off trend.
Nonetheless, I have to admit that I am an absolute sucker for cute clothing. Which brings me to why I chose to start a sustainable brand – to ‘Airbrush’ the bad bits out of the fast fashion industry and show how sustainable manufacturing can produce designs that are even more appealing, and just as affordable as those offered by fast fashion brands.
In what ways does your brand fall under the sustainable label?
Although fabrics are of course relevant in a company’s sustainable efforts, their importance is often exaggerated. Reducing the environmental impacts of products is far more than fabrics, it’s a culture, and one that Airbrushed Intimates™ is founded on.
We are dedicated towards all things environmental; including research into how the sustainable fashion industry is changing (because it constantly is!), design of current and new products, production (which we will forever keep within the UK for quality and to reduce our travel footprint) and packaging (which is, and always will be plastic free).
What are some obstacles you’ve faced in starting a sustainable brand?
The main obstacle faced in starting a sustainable brand was sourcing the trims for manufacturing. I chose CMT manufacturing, which stands for ‘Cut, Make, Trim’ – to ensure that I was able to choose and monitor the whole supply chain of the product from start to finish. However, although sustainable fashion is on the rise, there is still a long way to go in terms of the availability of sustainable fabric and trims and thus the research and ability to source all of the trims was most certainly an obstacle!
Luckily our manufacturers, ApparelTasker based in London, have eco policies in line with the international standard ISO14001:2015, to ensure that environmental impacts are being measured and improved. Essentially, they are the gold standard of ethical production and were extremely knowledgeable when it came to sourcing.
What are your hopes for sustainable fashion?
My hopes are that the belief that one should only wear an outfit once disappears. A quality, timeless wardrobe is not only better for the planet, but also for those who make the clothes and your wallet!
Have you noticed a shift in recent years towards the concept of slow fashion? If yes, how so? If no, why do you think nothing has shifted?
Yes and no. The industry definitely still has a long way to go, as the number of clothes purchased and discarded remains high. Nevertheless, slow fashion has become more prominent in the news, which is great to see as awareness of the issue is key. Even more recently, the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), has uncovered the practises of many Leicester sweatshops, where workers were told to come into work while sick or be sacked. This has forced government ministers to strike a pose of outrage at the situation, and hopefully will fuel more understanding towards the issues that surround the fast fashion industry.